“To enhance human rights and civic awareness in order to increase the demand for political and social accountability”
The Civic Education Action is the capacity building and civic empowerment component of FHRI's programme. It seeks to promote citizen awareness of basic fundamental rights and obligations; foster public dialogue on how best to protect and preserve human rights whether civil, political, economic, social or cultural; and build a cadre of passionate and knowledgeable human rights defenders. The awareness of these fundamental freedoms and liberties would contribute to the evolution of a strong democratic and human rights culture that will promote participatory decision making for effective service delivery and thus create a strong and effective foundation for a sound premise for democratic governance. The Civic Education Action uses the Public Outreach activity through various means to achieve the objective of promoting dialogue between duty bearers and rights holders for human rights responsive governance and effective service delivery.
The Action has one major activity with four sub components:
- The University Human Rights Network (UHRN).
- Support to community based human rights associations to improve human rights monitoring and reporting.
- Support to community based human rights associations to strengthen social accountability.
- Human rights song (Ddembe Lyo).
University Human Rights Network
The university outreach program seeks to build knowledge, strengthen research skills and stimulate debate on human rights amongst young human rights defenders in schools and institutions of higher learning. FHRI is building on the achievements of the last programs to strengthen the University Human Rights Network (UHRN) which began in 2007. This effort is directed at nurturing students into strong human rights defenders and gradual development of a human rights culture. A growing student movement passionate about human rights and values is hereby expected.
With a membership of 26 Universities, the network comprises of: Nkumba University, Kampala University, Makerere University, Ndejje University, Uganda Christian University – Arua, Bishop Stuart University, Kabale University, Kampala University- Jinja, Islamic University In Uganda – Kabojja, Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Gulu University, Kampala International University, Cavendish University, Uganda Christian University - Mukono, Uganda Martyrs University - Nkozi, Muteesa 1 Royal University, Bugema University, Islamic University In Uganda - Mbale, Kyambogo University, Makerere University Business School, Busitema University, Kumi University, St. Lawrence University, Pentecostal University, Mountain of the Moon University, and Busoga University.
The following activities are conducted:
- One day university human rights regional debates to strengthen research.
Regional university human rights debates promote the participation of students in human rights and governance related activities at the regional level and build students’ research and presentation skills. Under this activity, tertiary institutions and secondary school students are also brought on board.
- Internal University human rights debates.
At the university level, internal debates are held as part of the routine activities of the human rights associations.
- One day Annual Inter-University Human Rights competition.
FHRI partners with member universities of the University Human Rights Network to organise the competition. The students submit research papers and make oral presentations on a wide range of human rights and governance issues in Uganda. Since 2007, FHRI has organised 7 competitions from which the compilation of some of the presentations were done as below:
Support to Community Based Human Rights Associations to improve human rights monitoring and reporting.
The absence of a strong network of independent human rights groups with the capacity to monitor the democratic process hinders the ability of civil society to engage and hold the state accountable. The existing ones are too few and isolated with very minimal impact on the status quo.
Under this program, FHRI has proactively strengthened its network of community monitors by building their capacity to effectively undertake human rights monitoring and reporting in order to facilitate continuous monitoring of the state of governance in the country, enhance active engagement of Justice, Law and Order Institutions (JLOS), and make appropriate demands for reform in their community. Consequently, the community monitors track the necessary information and data that may support the Research, Advocacy and Lobbying Action and the production of the thematic reports earmarked during the period. This data, in form of reports will back up engagement with relevant state actors on key governance issues that require reform. The activities under this component include:
1. Training courses on human rights monitoring and reporting.
2. Production of IEC Materials development, reprint and dissemination to support training.
Support to Community Based Human Rights Associations to strengthen social accountability.
Under this five year program, FHRI together with the Citizens Election Watch- IT (CEW-IT), work towards enhancing the civic competence of community actors and the capacity of civil society organizations including those of vulnerable groups to effectively engage the government on implementation and effectiveness of key poverty eradication policies thereby strengthening social accountability. This action is implemented in 25 districts across the country. FHRI’s focus is in the central region in the districts of Kiboga, Kayunga, Luweero, Masaka and Kalangala. A number of activities implemented under the program include:
Support to Neighborhood Assemblies:
Neighborhood assemblies are ‘open membership’ pressure groups that operate from the village to the district level. The groups meet regularly to identify and address local problems relating to governance, human rights and service delivery.
In 2014, FHRI supported the formation of neighborhood assemblies in the Northern and Western regions of Uganda. The purpose of the assemblies was to establish a platform for community members to reflect on emerging social and human rights challenges in the community and to encourage collective action to address the gaps. As part of capacity strengthening for neighborhood assemblies, FHRI visits community neighborhood assemblies to provide technical support to identify concerns for collective action.
Vertical tracking of public expenditure on service delivery:
In 2014, the community monitors in the four districts of Buikwe, Kalangala, Kayunga and Kiboga conducted 16 monitoring visits. The purpose of the visits was to track the use of public funds remitted by the central government to local governments for service delivery.
Human Rights Song (Ddembe Lyo)
On 9th May 2014, FHRI launched its human rights song titled “Ddembe Lyo” translated as “my rights”. The song is disseminated through traditional and social media.